Pixel Scroll 3/11/17 It’s Always In The Last Pixel You Scroll

(1) VAMPIRE DIARIES GOES GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT. As the series goes off the air, The Guardian asks “Better than Buffy? Spare a thought for the Vampire Diaries”.

The eight-season run of the Vampire Diaries ended quietly on Friday night, without a hint of the outsized media fanfare so liberally bestowed on series finales in television’s so-called golden age. The glossy adaptation of LJ Smith’s young-adult novel series, even before its latter-season decline in form and ratings, never did inspire the type of sophisticated critiques reserved for the major-network or cable darlings. But even amid a landscape that’s only been further crowded by the emergence of Netflix and Amazon, there is a place for the pure concentrated entertainment that was offered up for years by the CW’s deliciously pulpy supernatural soap opera. Television will be poorer – and a less fun place – without it.

(2) HUGO REMINDER. Worldcon 75 sent members an alert that the deadline to nominate for the Hugos is only days away.

Even if you have already submitted nominations, you may update your selections as long as the nomination period continues. But we recommend that you do so in advance of the deadline to avoid any problems in the final hours when the system will be very busy.

You may make changes to your nominations until 17 March 2017 at 11:59pm Pacific Daylight Time (2:59am Eastern Daylight Time, 06:59 Greenwich Mean Time, 08:59 in Finland, all on 18 March), by using the following link to sign in again:

(3) FOLLOW THAT CAT. Timothy the Talking Cat has stolen the keys to Camestros Felapton’s blog and posted his own “appalling” Hugo slate

Remember that this year the rules have changed! The social justice witches have put their broomsticks together and decided that you can no longer just vote for Dune over and over again. But no fear! As a grandmaster of non-euclidean hyperbolic  7-dimensional chequers, I can adjust my plans accordingly. See below!

(4) DEEP POCKETS. The Deep Space: Nine Documentary by Ira Steven Behr, David Zappone and Adam Nimoy hit 420% of its Indiegogo goal. The extra money will be used to add 50% more latinum minutes to the video, and lots of bonus features. Space.com has the story — “’Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ Doc Warps Way Beyond Crowdfunding Goal”.

 After nearly quadrupling their Indiegogo goal to produce a new documentary on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (DS9), the creators are busy trying to figure out how to best deploy their newfound wealth.

Today (March 10) is the final day of the campaign to produce “What We Left Behind,” and backers on the crowdfunding site have raised more than $575,000 for the film. The show is co-led by DS9 showrunner Ira Steven Behr, produced by David Zappone and directed by Adam Nimoy. Zappone and Nimoy are known for the 2016 documentary “For The Love of Spock,” and Zappone also produced the 2011 “Star Trek” documentary “The Captains.”

In an interview with Space.com, Behr and Nimoy, who is the son of the first “Star Trek” series’ actor Leonard Nimoy, said they are reconfiguring their plans for the now 90-minute documentary, which is 30 minutes longer than their original vision, because of the extraordinary response to the crowdfunding effort.

(5) CHEATERS EVER PROSPER. Naked Security analyzes “How online gamers use malware to cheat”.

“We typically think of malware as something used to steal data from corporations or knock down websites in politically motivated attacks.  But if you’re a gamer, sometimes it’s simply a tool for winning. “SophosLabs threat researcher Tamás Boczán has been studying this trend, and recently gave a talk about it at BSides Budapest.  This article reviews his findings and offers us a chance to share some of his presentation slides.”

…As cases of cheating have risen, so have the examples of anti-cheat technology from various companies. As various sides have upped the ante, both sides have drawn in people of greater skill. He said:

Hacking an online game is not that easy any more. In the old days, script kiddies could to do it, but now hacking is a serious game that requires a skilled attacker. So why would a skilled attacker waste their time and skill on a video game?

He mapped out the sequence of events this way:

  • All this was originally about having fun.
  • Then the gaming industry grew.
  • The games went online.
  • People began to cheat for profit, just as hackers often do when targeting companies.
  • In response, an anti-cheating movement has sprouted up that mirrors security companies….

(6) FORGEHAM OBIT. John Forgeham (1941-2017): British actor, died Friday, aged 75. Best-known for a long-running role in the UK soap Crossroads, other screen appearances included The Avengers (one episode, 1965), The Stone Tape (1972), Sheena (1984), T-Bag and the Rings of Olympus (one episode, 1991).

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 10, 1818 Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is published

(8) LE GUIN’S NEXT BOOK. Ursula K. Le Guin’s essay collection No Time to Spare comes out December 5.

Her next book, No Time to Spare, will be a collection of recent essays. It comes with an introduction from Karen Joy Fowler, who, like Le Guin, knows a thing or two about writing across genres.

As Fowler notes in her introduction to the collection, Le Guin is currently enjoying a moment of mainstream cultural appreciation: Filmmaker Arwen Curry recently raised funds on Kickstarter for a documentary on the author, The Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, and back in October, The New Yorker ran a profile on Le Guin and her enduring influence.

You can read an excerpt from Fowler’s introduction at the linked post.

(9) BURIAL IN SPACE. At Krypton Radio, Thaddeus Howze reviews the long history of Star Trek, then dares to ask: Is it time to retire the franchise?

My point of all of this review is this: Since Star Trek: Enterprise as well as the three Kelvin Timeline Star Treks, (Star Trek (2009), Star Trek: Into Darkness and Star Trek: Beyond) we have stopped looking to the future. Star Trek has become as lame as the political rhetoric many of us despise in our real lives…

“Make America Great Again” is the rallying cry used to talk about the past as if it were some great thing to be reclaimed and returned to. When the truth of the matter is the past is never as good as it seems and to seek refuge in the past is to deny the present and refute the future altogether.

CBS’ latest television series Star Trek: Discovery also takes place in the past (presumably the original timeline past, not the Kelvin Universe past) some time after Archer but before (or maybe during Kirk’s Enterprise) period. What we do know is this is not a far future Star Trek.

It is not an extrapolation of all we can be. It is not a look at the future of Humanity at our best and our worst. It is a remix of Treks, mashing costumes, designs, ships, and probably stories.

(10) SHADOW CLARKE DOINGS. The Shadow Clarke Jury’s latest activity includes two reviews and a FAQ.

N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season casts a long shadow on the Clarke submissions list, having won the Hugo Award for Best Novel last year and having been shortlisted for almost everything else. Thousands of words have already been spent praising it, critiquing it, speculating about it online since it came out in the US in 2015 and I imagine few people reading this are encountering it for the first time. In spite of its pedigree I was sceptical going in. The only other book by Jemisin I’d read – The Killing Moon – wasn’t a highlight. I thought its excellent world-building came at the expense of almost everything else. Then there was the thorny issue of eligibility and whether or not The Fifth Season conforms to the Clarke requirement that books be science fiction rather than more broadly speculative. When I shortlisted it I did so partly because it offers an opportunity to wade into the eligibility question and partly as a test for myself, to see if I would admire it as much as everyone else. I almost hoped I wouldn’t because, let’s be honest, it’s easier to talk about what doesn’t work in fiction than what does.  Also, dissent prompts debate and this project is all about that. But, sorry folks, I’m afraid I’m about to tell a familiar story. The Fifth Season is just as good as everyone said it was and the genre controversy is dead in the water. It’s perfectly eligible for the Clarke Award.

Johanna Sinisalo’s The Core of the Sun is a tale about loss, in the form of a gender-stiffening social experiment wrapped in a family drama murder mystery, suffused with oppressive norms, self-delusional recounting, and fabulist nostalgia for a world that once was that actually never was. It’s the kind of novel that joins the ranks of extreme, performative, sociological SF, in the vein of Brunner, Ballard, and Pohl, and the feminist dystopias of Atwood, Russ, and Tiptree. It’s the kind of book that people will say doesn’t belong because a.) it isn’t needed in this age of post-women’s lib, b.) its agenda involves too much agenda, and c.) it isn’t science-y enough. But, as the list of authors cited above indicates, precedence invalidates these kinds of arguments.

What is the Arthur C. Clarke Award Shadow Jury?

An initiative developed by Nina Allan and hosted by the Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy beginning in 2017, the Shadow Jury is a panel of talented, passionate members of the SF community who come up with their own personal shortlists and winners for a given year.

(11) CRITICAL MASS. Charles Payseur analyzes the nature of book reviewing and his own reasons for doing it.

Let me say that there’s a great many reasons why people review. Some want to become authorities on a particular form or genre. They want to be engaged in creating a canon or they want to help determine the boundaries of genres or any number of other things that essentially boil down to gatekeeping. They want to be able to say what is and what is not, what should and what should not be considered when talking about science fiction or literary fiction or horror. When they review they might refuse to look at certain works because they don’t cleave close enough to what they expect and enjoy. This is not the kind of reviewer I hope to be. And there are reviewers out there who just want to express their opinions as honestly as they can. They want to go onto Goodreads and Amazon and rank what they liked good and what they didn’t bad and concentrate mostly on their immediate reaction to a story or work. This is actually much closer to what I do but it’s not quite what I aim for….

(12) KONG KILLED AGAIN. Reader’s Digest version – Locus film reviewer Gary Westfahl says the new Kong movie sucks little black rocks – “Bungle in the Jungle: A Review of Kong: Skull Island.

Kong: Skull Island actually begins quite promisingly, as we are introduced to a diverse and generally appealing cast of characters, and they gather together to journey to the mysterious Skull Island and confront the enormous, and initially hostile, King Kong (also glimpsed in a prologue). One briefly imagines that director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has finally achieved what John Guillermin (in 1976) and Peter Jackson (in 2005) could not achieve – namely, a King Kong film that recaptures the charm and élan of Merian C. Cooper’s classic 1933 production. Unfortunately, the film devolves into an iterative, and increasingly unpleasant, series of variations on the two basic set pieces observed in all giant monster movies: humans vs. monster, and monster vs. monster; and the only suspense involves which character will next be dispatched to a gory demise….

 (13) RED PLANET RADIO. It’s Mars Season on BBC Radio 4, with fiction, interviews, documentaries, and quizzes.

William Shatner introduces the “We Are The Martians” series, which explores the Mars of imagination, science and history.

[Thanks to Michael O’Donnell, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mark-kitteh, Steve Green, John King Tarpinian, and David K.M.Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Speculative Fiction Has Screen Endurance

By Carl Slaughter: Supernatural is still on the air after 12 seasons.

  • Smallville and the original Stargate both lasted 10 seasons.

  • X-Files and Touched by an Angel lasted 9 seasons.
  • Vampire Diaries and Charmed, 8 seasons each.

  • Game of Thrones and Walking Dead, still going at 7 seasons.

  • Outer Limits, Buffy, Sabrina, Medium, and Crypt, 7 seasons.

  • Star Trek spinoffs: Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, 7 seasons each.

  • Lost, True Blood, Highlander, and Xena, 6 seasons.

  • Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, Heroes, 4400, Angel, Ghost Whisperer, Sanctuary, Being Human, Stargate: Atlantis, Lois & Clark, Warehouse 13, Lost Girl, Star Trek Enterprise, 4/5 seasons.

  • Even shows for hard core sci fi fans — Quantum Leap, Sliders, Farscape, Andromeda, Lexx, Kyle, Eureka —  have lasted at least 5 seasons.

  • UK science fiction shows:  Doctor Who, 36 seasons and counting.  Red Dwarf, 12 seasons and counting.  Misfits, Sarah Jane Adventures, Primeval, Being Human, Merlin, 5 seasons each; Blake’s 7 and Torchwood, 4 seasons each.

Pixel Scroll 2/9/17 Scroll-A-Post, Scroll-A-Post, Will You Do The Fendango?

(1) CON CRUNCH. Crunchyroll has announced it will launch a new anime convention called Crunchyroll Expo (CRX). The con will be held August 25-27 in Santa Clara, California at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Assuming CRX is repeated in 2018 on a comparable weekend, it would take place in Santa Clara on the weekend following Worldcon 76 in the San Jose McEnery Convention Center on August 16-20, 2018.

It would be worse if CRX was going to precede the Worldcon (and far worse if it was on the same weekend), but there’s always a question of how much time and money fans in an area have to devote to conventions, and which one they’ll choose.

(2) ALWAYS TO CALL IT RESEARCH. Paste Magazine names “6 Classic Sci-Fi Stories That Inspired This Week’s Supergirl.

  1. Invasion of the Body Snatchers Are your friends and loved ones acting strangely? Are they acting a bit too much like themselves? Are they too understanding, too calm, too patient, too willing to listen to you whine about how they’ve let you down without defending themselves? Bad news, my friend: They’ve been body snatched.

The Invasion of the Body Snatchers franchise encompasses several movies, thematic connections to multiple authors—including Robert Heinlein, whose 1951 novel The Puppet Masters provided the loose inspiration for the film version—and even a Bugs Bunny cartoon. (It’s called Invasion of the Bunny Snatchers, and it’s perfect.) All revolve around the paranoia that the people we know could one day be replaced by identical alien life forms with no discernable difference. So when M’gann, Winn, and later Alex turn out to be white Martians in disguise, those feelings of uncertainty and paranoia come straight out of the Body Snatchers bag of tricks.

Originally meant as a metaphor for communism and the Cold War—and, really, when was anything not originally meant as a metaphor for communism and the Cold War—Supergirl ups the ante on Snatchers by taking a more personal route. It’s a horrifying idea: That you could be spilling your most difficult-to-process and embarrassing feelings to a person you think is your closest friend, only to find out that the person literally isn’t who you think he is. Try hard not to think about it the next time you’re talking to your crush.

(3) OUTSIDE THE MILSF BOMB BAY. “Military science fiction doesn’t have to just be about space battles and glory,” says the blurb. “It can examine why we, as a culture, choose to make war—and how we can change.” Elizabeth Bonesteel discusses “The Future of War, Peace, and Military Science Fiction” at Portalist.

…And paradoxically, when we define soldiers as bigger than life, it makes it easier for us to point fingers if something goes wrong. They’re trained. They should know better. It can’t possibly be our fault.

It is our fault. It’s always our fault. War is a choice. But the more we blunt our perception of the people we send to do this work, the easier it is for us to abdicate responsibility for how serious the decision really is.

Fiction of all types is a game of what-ifs. Military science fiction takes a particular angle: What if this was what a futuristic military force looked like? What if this is what it was used for? What is it like for the soldiers themselves? Even the most jingoistic military science fiction puts the reader in the mind of a soldier, and that in itself is a humanizing act.

But I think more than humanizing the soldiers themselves, military science fiction has a role to play in illuminating why we choose war. As with all speculative fiction, the power lies in being able to set up an impossible scenario, and ask concrete questions about it. Government and military can be structured in any way at all, or even be at odds with each other—weapons are, after all, a uniquely dispassionate way of upsetting the balance of power. Add to this a government with complex motives for choosing to deploy their defenses, and you can examine our current society through an infinite number of lenses.

(4) MORE ON WAR. David Brin and Catherine Asaro respond to the question “Can science fiction help prevent a nuclear war?” at PRI.

Long before David Brin became a scientist and author, he practiced duck-and-cover drills in his elementary school classroom. And because the threat of nuclear war hung over his childhood, it has become a big part of his fiction.

“The teacher would be talking away, and suddenly, in the middle of a sentence, say, ‘Drop!’” Brin recalled. “That’s how much time you’d have if you noticed the flash of a nuclear blast.” He was so conscious of nuclear risks that he wanted his own fallout shelter. “I wanted my mother to buy a used tanker car from the railroad, and bury it in our backyard.”

In a recent conversation with Catherine Asaro, a physicist and sci-fi writer, Brin said his most famous book, “The Postman,” brought about a kind of catharsis for him. “I used that book, deliberately, to discharge a lot of the stress of having grown up all my life, wondering — is this the day mushroom clouds appear on the horizon?” Brin said.

…“I don’t think that fear has gone away,” said Asaro, who has written many “hard science fiction” novels about space, technology and the military. In her opinion, readers today are even more aware of the dangers that society faces. But she believes the fear of catastrophe no longer centers on nuclear weapons.

“It’s increased, to the point where it’s not just nuclear winter anymore,” Asaro said. In recent years, many sci-fi writers have explored the dangers of climate change, cyberwarfare and advanced artificial intelligence.

(5) PRATCHETT SPECIAL AIRS SATURDAY. Boing Boing has the story — “The BBC will air a docudrama on Terry Pratchett’s life and his struggle with Alzheimer’s” .

Paul Kaye plays Pratchett in Back in Black, based on Pratchett’s unfinished autobiography; it will air on Saturday.

The doc covers the frustrations, discrimination and discouragement that Pratchett encountered as a working class pupil with a variety of speech impediments, and on what Neil Gaiman called Pratchett’s ‘quiet rage’, which fuelled him to literary stardom and enabled him to write seven novels even as Alzheimer’s stole his mind.

The irreverent trailer hints at a programme that will treat Pratchett with the kind of anger and compassion he brought to his own work and life.

 

(6) ASK HURLEY. Kameron Hurley participates in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session today at 8 p.m. EST, which will be over by the time you read this but the transcript will be online.

(7) JUST SAY KNOW. And Hurley has a new blog post – “Yes, You Can Say No to Your Editor(s)”. Well, if you’ve negotiated your contract correctly…

Listen. I’m going to tell you a secret, which you should already know if you’re a pro writer, but is especially useful for new writers to hear. Nobody tells you what to write in this business. They may say, “Hey, I’d like to see a space opera from you,” or “Hey, you know, the gay guy dies here and that’s not a great trope. Sure you want to do that?” but no one will make you change anything. I mean, if you really can’t come to an agreement, you can publish that shit up on Amazon tomorrow, easy peasy. I know writers who actually argue with their copyeditors in the manuscript comments, and this always makes me roll my eyes. Why are you arguing? You’re the author. It will say in your contract, if you and your agent are diligent, that no changes can me made to the manuscript which you don’t approve of. That’s a pretty standard clause that has been in all of my contracts. Now, if you’re like, “I totally want to load a bunch of typos in this book!” you could also, even, do that for stylistic reasons! I know, it’s amazing.

(8) CRAWFORD AWARD. Charlie Jane Anders has won the 2017 Crawford Award for All the Birds in the Sky.

The award will be presented at the 38th International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts taking place March 22-26 in Orlando, Florida.

(9) DS9 REMEMBERED. The makers of a documentary about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are crowdfunding some production costs through Indiegogo. They’ve raised $114,777 of their $148,978 goal with a month to go.

Now, over twenty years later, fans all over the world are rediscovering Deep Space Nine and embracing the show with an enthusiasm rivaling the affection they feel for any other Star Trek series. Critics are even calling the show the Jewel in the Crown and the best of the Star Trek franchise. A devoted sci-fi fan might rightly ask themselves; “What the hell happened?”

Our documentary film, What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, will take a detailed look at this historic series and consider the reasons Deep Space Nine went from a family outcast to a Star Trek mainstay.  The film will also contain a “what if” segment in which the original writers brainstorm a theoretical 8th season of the show.

Spearheaded by original show-runner Ira Steven Behr, directed by Adam Nimoy (For the Love of Spock), and with a handful of key interviews already ‘in the bag,’ the #DS9Doc now needs YOUR HELP to reach completion by finishing filming, editing, and post-production.

(10) TODAY’S DAY

Crack cultural researcher John King Tarpinian assures me this is Pizza Day. Quoting his source —

History of Pizza Day

You can say that Pizza Day started in the 10th century in Naples, Italy. This is when records first show the presence of pizza….

Pizza made its mark on America in 1905. In New York City, a pizzeria called Lombardi’s created the spark that would light hearts across the country from then until now — and with no conceivable end in sight! Amazingly, they are still in business! If you want to taste that first real pizza to hit American shores, head over to Little Italy in Manhattan and check them out.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • February 9, 1928 — Frank Frazetta

(12) FROM PHONE AGE TO STONE AGE. The BBC asks “What if the internet stopped working for a day?”. Sounds tempting to me… And I love that the name of the researcher is “Borg.”

…For a start, the impact to the economy may not be too severe. In 2008, the US Department of Homeland Security asked Borg to look into what might happen if the internet went down. Borg and his colleagues analysed the economic effects of computer and internet outages in the US from 2000 onwards. Looking at quarterly financial reports from the 20 companies that claimed to be most affected in each case, as well as more general economic statistics, they discovered that the financial impact of an outage was surprisingly insignificant – at least for outages that lasted no more than four days, which is all they studied.

“These were instances where enormous losses were being claimed– in the hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars,” Borg says. “But while some industries like hotels, airlines and brokerage firms suffered a bit, even they didn’t experience very big losses.”

(13) ENDLESS REPLAY. Be your own “grateful dead” concert. Nerdist reports “A Company Will Press Your Ashes into a Working Vinyl Album”. Sounds like something Connie Willis would list in that section of her GoH speech about things science fiction predicted (that everyone in the audience recognizes it didn’t.)

When the final track of your life finishes playing, how would you like to be remembered? Do you want to be buried and forgotten like a bad solo album? Or would you like to be encased for posterity like a big platinum record? Or maybe you hope to continue being heard, like a legendary musician that lives on forever. Well, if you hope to have your song play long after you’ve left the recording studio of life, there’s a way for that to happen–literally–by having your ashes pressed into a vinyl record.

(14) LATE SHOW SF NAME-DROPPING. While bantering with Paul Giamatti, Colbert reels off a library’s worth of his favorite sf writers – begins at the 6:28 mark in this clip from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS-TV). Authors mentioned include Asimov, de Camp, Dick, Ellison, Heinlein, Kuttner, Niven, Cordwainer Smith, Tolkien, Vance…

(15) BILL IS BACK. And Netflix has got him.

Bill Nye – science guy, educator, mechanical engineer, and curator of curiosity – returns with a new show. Each episode of Bill Nye Saves the World tackles a specific topic or concept through lively panel discussions, wide-ranging correspondent reports from a crackerjack team, and Bill’s very special blend of lab procedure and sly personality.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Petréa Mitchell, JJ, Standback, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]